Teen stress and anxiety is a growing epidemic. One-third of adolescents report feeling anxiety to a significant degree, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, and 62 percent of college students said in 2016 that they feel “overwhelming anxiety;” up from 50 percent in 2011, based on a survey from the American College Health Association.
But it is an epidemic that often goes overlooked, because “people don’t see it as a legitimate illness,” Robin H. Gurwitch, Ph.D., professor and clinical psychologist at Duke University Medical Center and the Center for Child and Family Health and member of PEOPLE’s Health Squad, explains.
“Anxiety is probably one of the biggest mental health concerns, period, and yet we’re much more likely to say we’ll look at depression and post-traumatic stress disorder,” she tells PEOPLE. “We don’t give as much attention to stress, maybe because all of us experience anxiety in one way, shape or form. But when it rises to a level where it interferes with daily functioning, it becomes a problem.”